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Webbed toes is the common name for syndactyly affecting the feet. It is characterised by the fusion of two or more digits of the feet. This is normal in many birds, such as ducks; amphibians, such as frogs; and mammals, such as kangaroos. In humans it is considered unusual, occurring in approximately one in 2,000 to 2,500 live births.
There are various levels of webbing, from partial to complete. Most commonly the second and third toes are webbed or joined by skin and flexible tissue. This can reach either part way up or nearly all the way up the toe.
This condition is normally discovered at birth. If other symptoms are present, a specific syndrome may be indicated. Diagnosis of a specific syndrome is based on a family history, medical history, and a physical exam.
The exact cause of the condition is unknown. In some cases, close family members may share this condition. In other cases, no other related persons have this condition. The scientific name for the condition is syndactyly, although this term covers both webbed fingers and webbed toes. Syndactyly occurs when apoptosis or programmed cell death during gestation is absent or incomplete. Webbed toes occur most commonly in the following circumstances:
It is also associated with a number of rare conditions, notably:
Webbed toes is a purely cosmetic condition. This condition does not impair the ability to perform any activity including walking, running, or swimming. There is no evidence that it improves swimming ability.
People with webbed toes may have a slight disadvantage for activities that benefit from prehensile toes.
Webbed toes eliminate the possibility of athlete's foot infections in the affected areas.
Psychological stress may arise from the fear of negative reactions to this condition from people who do not have webbed toes. This may lead some individuals to become extremely self-conscious about their feet and go to great lengths to hide them. They may avoid open-toed footwear and activities such as swimming where their feet may be seen. In reality, other people rarely notice this condition unless the person with this condition makes a deliberate effort to point it out.
Webbed toes can be separated through surgery. Surgical separation of webbed toes is an example of body modification.
As with any form of surgery, there are risks of complications.
The end results depend on the extent of the webbing and underlying bone structure. There is usually some degree of scarring, and skin grafts may be required. In rare instances, nerve damage may lead to loss of feeling in the toes. There are also reports of partial web grow-back. The skin grafts needed to fill in the space between the toes can lead to additional scars in the places where the skin is removed.
Famous webbed feet
Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Li-Xing Man, M.Sc.; Benjamin Chang, M.D. "Maternal Cigarette Smoking during Pregnancy Increases the Risk of Having a Child with a Congenital Digital Anomaly." January 2006, pg. 301. Journal website
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Webbed_toes". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|